Category Archives: Photography

Offered at Auction: Warhol — The Album Covers

Oh, this looks like fun! Andy would approve.*

Between 1949 and 1987, Andy Warhol designed the sleeves for 60 LP records. And now you can own the whole set. All you have to do is place the high bid in an auction.

The estimate is €50,000 (about ~US$55,980).

The Complete Warhol LPs, the full set of Andy Warhol record sleeves, will be offered at auction by PIASA in Paris on 22 June 2017. According to the auction notes:

“This unique ensemble, assembled by a passionate music-lover, transports us through 40 years of musical creativity. It has never been offered at auction before.”

The 60 vinyl discs are included in the collection, but the notes say nothing about the vintage or condition of the records.

Warhol’s instantly recognizable jacket for the first Velvet Underground album, featuring a peelable banana, is the most famous item in the collection, and one of the best known record sleeves of all time. Warhol is credited as the “producer” of the album, which was hugely influential, and still shows up on most “Greatest Rock Album Ever” lists, 50 years after its release. The copy offered at auction was signed by Warhol.

Also included is the notorious jacket for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, which featured a very explicit crotch shot of Joe Dallesandro—“…generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century,” according to Wikipedia—in skin-tight jeans. The Smiths later used a photograph of Dallesandro from the Warhol film Flesh as the cover of their 1984 self-titled début album The Smiths.

A related video. (As if I needed an excuse to post it….)


*On second thought, Warhol would probably be irritated that someone else figured out a way to monetize the album jackets before he did.

 

Symmetry Breakfasts — Breakfast as an Art Form

One morning back in 2013, Michael Zee made breakfast for himself and his boyfriend, Mark. When he plated the meal, he noticed it was symmetrical, and took a picture of it with his IPhone.

That was the first of several hundred symmetrical breakfasts.

Zee, who was teaching at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, started posting the pictures to his Instagram feed, where they went viral. As I write this, he’s published images of 1,297 breakfasts, and has acquired almost 700,000 followers.

He still gets up by five every morning, to prepare an often elaborate and always beautiful meal. His breakfasts are literally works of art.

(Me, I’m not a morning person—I often get less done in a whole day than some people do before breakfast. If I have any breakfast at all, it’s either a warmed croissant with lots of Irish butter, or cereal with cream (real creamnot skimmed milk, not 2% milk), and some combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, golden raisins, and bananas, which some judgmental people have been known to describe as my “wake-up dessert.”)*

Last year Zee published a book called SymmetryBreakfast, which contains both gorgeous pictures of meals, and 100 of the recipes that produced them. You can see the full collection of Zee’s images on his Instagram feed at  Symmetrybreakfast.

All the photos here were found on the web.


*Ummmm, butter and cream. Gotta keep those cholesterol levels in the “Who wants to live forever?” territory.

Spring at the National Cathedral

Years ago, I made it a rule to schedule an at-home vacation during the first week in May. Except for the occasional day trip to Baltimore or Annapolis, I spent the time in Washington, catching up on movies or museum exhibitions that I’d missed, taking care of household tasks, and generally enjoying the warm springtime weather.

The week’s vacation always ended the same way, with a visit to the National Cathedral. Since 1939, the Cathedral has hosted an annual two-day “Flower Mart,” which begins on the first Friday in May.

A spring fete in and around the cathedral? Could there be a more likely setting for a good old-fashioned Agatha Christie murder mystery? Anglophile and Agatha Christie fan that I am, there was no way I could pass that up.

There was always a chance I’d stumble over a body in the flower beds herbaceous borders, and I wouldn’t want to miss that.


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

—attributed, probably incorrectly, to Albert Einstein

I had another, more practical reason for attending the event: Herbs.

One of the great attractions of the festival is the immense selection of potted herbs for sale on the grounds. Every year, I’d fill a bag with six or eight little plants, carry them home, carefully re-pot them, set them on a windowsill, and faithfully follow the care and feeding instructions printed on their identifying name plates.

And every year, the damned things would be dead in less than a month.

Well, not this year. I’ve finally broken that old and frustrating habit. From now on, I’ll be buying all my herbs in those sealed little plastic packets in the produce department of Giant, as Nature intended.

I may have a black thumb, but I’m not crazy.


After filling my knapsack with late-night munchies from the Episcopal Church Women’s Baked Goods booth, I had to make the difficult choice between competing festival food vendors for my on-site meal.

Crepes or Paella?
Sweet or Spicy?
France or Spain?

This time, the Spanish won. I chose a big serving of the shrimp paella, ate half of it at the festival, and finished it off at home.

Proof: Time Travel Exists! And the Wrong People Are Using It.

A few weeks ago, I posted an item about Il Paradiso, the huge painting that hangs in the Chamber of the Great Council in Venice. That’s it in the picture above, which, btw, you should definitely enbiggen, because it’s a stunning work of art. It was painted by Tintoretto and the members of his workshop, and I’ve been entranced by it for more than a decade. It was the one great cultural achievement that I had to see in Venice.

But now it’s all been tainted. I noticed something for the first time, and I’ll never be able to un-see it.

Look at the picture again. Look at the center of the painting. Do you see it now?


There, directly behind Jesus, some time-travelling tourist with a selfie stick is ruining the Ascension of the Just into Heaven because he wants a souvenir photo of himself at the great event.


That’s it.

And I’m left with the sad knowledge that I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life missing the grandeur of great art, because I’ll be too distracted by looking for depictions of IPads in the paintings of Rubens, and images of smartphones in the works of Burne-Jones.

Paradiso, and the Chamber of the Great Council

I didn’t take this photograph. I’m using it because it there was no way for me to come close to capturing the texture and detail of the massive painting behind the Doge’s throne in the Chamber of the Great Council. It’s titled Paradiso, and it was painted by Jacopo Tintoretto and the members of his workshop.

Click the image to enbiggen.

I first saw a picture of Paradiso in Venice: Art and Architecture, a two-volume, slip-cased entry in the superb series of art books that the Konemann publishing house released around the turn of the century. The picture took up two full pages of the oversized book.

I was thoroughly enraptured. Venice had always been near the top of my list of cities I dreamed of visiting, and that picture cinched the deal.

And now I was here.

Paradiso is the world’s longest painting on canvas, and the Chamber of the Great Council itself is one of the largest rooms in Europe. It was here that the Great Council of Venice, made up of all patrician males over 25, regularly met to determine the fate of Venice.

I spent more than an hour in this room, moving from place to place, trying to absorb as much of the emotional atmosphere of the room as I could.

Like Schloss Neuschwanstein, like Sainte-Chapelle, like Château de Chenonceau.

A peak experience.

In the Doges’ Palace

We’re near the end, now. And we’re right back where we started, at Piazza San Marco.

For centuries, Venice was a dominant—sometimes the dominant—force in the commercial and cultural life of Europe, playing a role similar to that of New York City in the 20th century. The Doges’ Palace was Venice’s ultimate power center.

The Palace is adjacent to Saint Mark’s Basilica, and its entrance is just around the corner.


The Courtyard

You approach the palace grounds through this dim passageway…

…which opens to the central courtyard, and a magnificent assemblage of architecture. It’s a much smaller space than Piazza San Marco, but every bit as awe-inspiring..

Emerging from that shadowy entrance into this exquisite space is similar to going from Kansas to Oz.


“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold…”

Beautiful as the exterior is, it doesn’t prepare you for the grand rooms of the Palace.

This is why I keep going back to Europe. It takes centuries of civilization for a society to create an environment like this.


In the Armory

Every palace needs an armory.


The Reason I Came to Venice

There’s one more room in the palace still to visit: The Chamber of the Great Council. It gets a separate posting.